Dr John Barr

BSc, PhD 1994, Warwick
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Background: Postdoctoral work at the Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. Appointed Research Instructor (2000), University of Alabama, and Academic Research Fellow, Leeds (2005)

Contact: Garstang 8.55b, +44(0) 113 34 38069, email address for  

You can read more about Dr Barr's interests here:

Research Interests

Gene expression of negative-sense RNA viruses

The group of negative-sense RNA viruses include many of the most serious pathogens of both humans and animals. Examples include Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, Ebola virus and the arenaviruses. Each of these viruses cause significant mortality amongst humans, with disease ranging from devastating hemorrhagic fevers, to potentially lethal severe respiratory tract infections. We study many aspects of the molecular and cellular biology of these viruses, ranging from structural biology of viral proteins, mechanisms of gene expression, interactions between viral and cellular proteins, and global effects of viral infection on host cell processess using proteomics. The purpose of this research is to increase our understanding of how these viruses multiply, which will aid in the design of strategies that selectively interfere with virus growth without affecting host cell processes.

Clearly, many of these viruses are exremely hazardous to work with; CCHFV, Ebola virus and many of the arenaviruses are classified within Hazard Level-4, which requires the highest level of biological containment (CL-4). We are very fortunate to participate in a strong collaboration with the Health Protection Agency (UK), which allows the direct study of these viruses in high containment laboratories at the Porton Down facility near Salisbury. In addition, we have also recently collaborated with scientists from the Special Pathogens Branch at The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, USA) in a detailed investigation of CCHFV gene expression.

In addition to working with these extremely hazardous viruses, we also make use of so-called 'model viruses', which display characteristics that are extremely similar to their more deadly cousins, yet pose fewer safety concerns. Examples of two model viruses we have chosen to work with are Bunyamwera virus (BUNV) and Hazara virus (HAZ). These are both members of the Bunyaviridae family, and represent excellent research tools with which we can safely and rapidly accumulate important information that can be applied to other more lethal bunyaviruses.

For more information of our research, please visit the specific research pages that can be accessed using the following link www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk/staff/Barr_J/

For information regarding post-graduate study in the laboratory, please enter the research pages, as described above, and read the page titled 'PhD opportunities'. This page gives information regarding current fully-funded PhD studentships, and also opportunities for highly motivated self-funded individuals wishing to embark on PhD study in my laboratory.

PhD projects are available on diverse aspects of structural and cellular biology of all the viruses described on these pages.


Current Projects

More information regarding current and future research projects can be found at this link: www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk/staff/Barr_J/


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

See also:

Modules managed

MICR1120 - Introduction to Microbiology
MICR1125 - Introductory Microbiology
MICR1201 - Introduction to Microbiology

Modules taught

BIOC2302 - Intermediate Biochemistry: Practicals
BIOC2303 - Intermediate Biochemistry: Skills
BIOC3160 - Laboratory/Literature/Computing Research Project
BIOC3231/32/BIOL3211/MICR3212 D - ATU - Human-microbe interactions
BIOL1302/1303/MICR1320 - Intro skills - Biological Science and Microbiology
BIOL2111/BIOC2301 - Integrated Biochemistry/Genetic Engineering
BIOL2301 - Intermediate Skills for Biological Sciences
BIOL2301/03/05/MICR2320 - Intermediate Skills - BIOL/MICR
BIOL3306 - Biological Sciences Research Project
BIOL3397 - Biotechnology Research Project
BIOL5382M - Extended Research Project
BIOL5394M - Specialised Research Topics and Skills
BMSC2210 - Chemotherapy
MICR1120 - Introduction to Microbiology
MICR1120/1125 - Introduction to Microbiology
MICR1201 - Introduction to Microbiology
MICR1320 - Skills for Microbiologists
MICR2121 - Molecular Virology
MICR2220 - Medical Bacteriology
MICR2222 - Medical Virology
MICR2320 - Skills for Microbiologists 2
MICR3110 - Medical Microbiology Research Project
MICR3120/BIOC3111/12/BIOL3112 A - ATU - Respiratory infections
MICR3211/BIOL3210 A - ATU - emerging infections

Academic roles

UG Programme Leader - UG Microbiology programmes


Member of Graduate School Committee (Faculty representative on Graduate Board Examinations Group)
Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee

Group Leader Dr John Barr  (Lecturer)

Gene expression of negative-sense RNA viruses 

Dr Victoria Easton  (Research Fellow)

Dr Selvaraj Muniyandi  (Research Fellow)


Beatriz Álvarez Rodriguez (Primary supervisor) 34% FTE
Katherine Davies (Primary supervisor) 40% FTE
Jack Fuller (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Alexis Claude Raymond Hoste (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Kate Loveday (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Timen Passchier (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Emma Punch (Primary supervisor) 80% FTE
Ibrahim Al-Masoud (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Frank Charlton (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Francis Hopkins (Co-supervisor) 33% FTE
Samantha Hover (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Georgia Pangratiou (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Amelia Shaw (Co-supervisor) 33% FTE

Easton V, McPhillie M, Garcia-Dorival I, Barr JN, Edwards TA, Foster R, Fishwick C, Harris M Identification of a small molecule inhibitor of Ebola virus genome replication and transcription using in silico screening Antiviral Research 156 46-54, 2018
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Hover S, Barr JN, Goldstein SAN, Mankouri J Bunyaviruses are Dependent on K-2p Channels to Infect Cells, 2018

Muniyandi S, Pangratiou G, Edwards TA, Barr JN Structure and function of the human respiratory syncytial virus M2–1 protein, 2018
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Punch EK, Hover S, Blest HTW, Fuller J, Hewson R, Fontana J, Mankouri J, Barr JN Potassium is a trigger for conformational change in the fusion spike of an enveloped RNA virus Journal of Biological Chemistry 293 9937-9944, 2018
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Hover S, Foster B, Fontana J, Kohl A, Goldstein SAN, Barr JN, Mankouri J Bunyavirus requirement for endosomal K<sup>+</sup>reveals new roles of cellular ion channels during infection PLoS Pathogens 14, 2018
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Hover S, Foster B, Barr JN, Mankouri J Viral dependence on cellular ion channels– an emerging antiviral target? Journal of General Virology 98 345-351, 2017
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García-Dorival I, Wu W, Armstrong SD, Barr JN, Carroll MW, Hewson R, Hiscox JA Elucidation of the Cellular Interactome of Ebola Virus Nucleoprotein and Identification of Therapeutic Targets Journal of Proteome Research 15 4290-4303, 2016
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Barr JN, Fearns R Genetic Instability of RNA Viruses In Genome Stability: From Virus to Human Application, 2016
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Aljabr W, Touzelet O, Pollakis G, Wu W, Munday DC, Hughes M, Hertz-Fowler C, Kenny J, Fearns R, Barr JN, Matthews DA, Hiscox JA Investigating the Influence of Ribavirin on Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus RNA Synthesis by Using a High-Resolution Transcriptome Sequencing Approach Journal of Virology 90 4876-4888, 2016
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Hover S, King B, Hall B, Loundras EA, Taqi H, Daly J, Dallas M, Peers C, Schnettler E, Mckimmie C, Kohl A, Barr JN, Mankouri J Modulation of potassium channels inhibits bunyavirus infection Journal of Biological Chemistry 291 3411-3422, 2016
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Surtees R, Dowall SD, Shaw A, Armstrong S, Hewson R, Carroll MW, Mankouri J, A Edwards T, Hiscox JA, Barr JN Heat shock protein 70 family members interact with Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and Hazara virus nucleocapsid proteins and perform a functional role in the nairovirus replication cycle Journal of Virology 90 9305-9316, 2016
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Surtees R, Ariza A, Punch EK, Trinh CH, Dowall SD, Hewson R, Hiscox JA, Barr JN, Edwards TA The crystal structure of the Hazara virus nucleocapsid protein BMC Structural Biology 15, 2015
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Brennan B, Weber F, Kormelink R, Schnettler E, Bouloy M, Failloux AB, Weaver SC, Fazakerley JK, Fragkoudis R, Harris M, Barr JN, Palese P, García-Sastre A, Dalziel RG, Dutia BM, Lowen AC, Steel J, Randall RE, Paul Duprex W, Rice CM, Tesh RB, Murphy FA, Ebihara H, Vasconcelos PFC, Nunes MR, Fooks AR, Smith GL, Goodfellow I, Pappu HR, Lamb RA, Paterson RG, Higgs S, Vanlandingham DL, Dietzgen RG, Stephen Lodmell J, Nichol ST, Daly J, UllmanDE, Plyusnin A, Plyusnina A, Efstathiou S, Hewson R, Tordo N, Cherry S, Boutell C, Hosie MJ, Murcia PR, Neil JC, Palmarini M, Patel AH, Willett BJ, Kohl A, McLauchlan J In memoriam--Richard M. Elliott (1954-2015) The Journal of general virology 96 1975-1978, 2015

Munday DC, Howell G, Barr JN, Hiscox JA Proteomic analysis of mitochondria in respiratory epithelial cells infected with human respiratory syncytial virus and functional implications for virus and cell biology. J Pharm Pharmacol 67 300-318, 2015
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Munday DC, Wu W, Smith N, Fix J, Noton SL, Galloux M, Touzelet O, Armstrong SD, Dawson JM, Aljabr W, Easton AJ, Rameix-Welti M-A, de Oliveira AP, Simabuco FM, Ventura AM, Hughes DJ, Barr JN, Fearns R, Digard P, Eléouët J-F, Hiscox JA Interactome analysis of the human respiratory syncytial virus RNA polymerase complex identifies protein chaperones as important cofactors that promote L-protein stability and RNA synthesis. J Virol 89 917-930, 2015
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Dowall SD, Matthews DA, Garcia-Dorival I, Taylor I, Kenny J, Hertz-Fowler C, Hall N, Corbin-Lickfett K, Empig C, Schlunegger K, Barr JN, Carroll MW, Hewson R, Hiscox JA Elucidating variations in the nucleotide sequence of Ebola virus associated with increasing pathogenicity Genome Biology 15, 2014
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García-Dorival I, Wu W, Dowall S, Armstrong S, Touzelet O, Wastling J, Barr JN, Matthews D, Carroll M, Hewson R, Hiscox JA Elucidation of the ebola virus VP24 cellular interactome and disruption of virus biology through targeted inhibition of host-cell protein function Journal of Proteome Research 13 5120-5135, 2014
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Shepherd DA, Ariza A, Edwards TA, Barr JN, Stonehouse NJ, Ashcroft AE Probing bunyavirus N protein oligomerisation using mass spectrometry. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 28 793-800, 2014
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Tanner S, Ariza A, Richard CA, Kyle H, Dods R, Blondot ML, Wu W, Trincão J, Trinh CH, Hiscox JA, Carroll MW, Silman NJ, Eléouët JF, Edwards TA, Barr JN Crystal structure of the essential transcription antiterminator M2-1 protein of human respiratory syncytial virus and implications of its phosphorylation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA 111 1580-1585, 2014
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Dent K, Thompson R, Barker A, Hiscox J, Barr J, Stockley P, Ranson N The Asymmetric Structure of an Icosahedral Virus Bound to Its Receptor Suggests a Mechanism for Genome Release Structure 21 1225-1234, 2013
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Ariza A, Tanner SJ, Walter CT, Dent KC, Shepherd DA, Wu W, Matthews SV, Hiscox JA, Green TJ, Luo M, Elliott RM, Fooks AR, Ashcroft AE, Stonehouse NJ, Ranson NA, Barr JN, Edwards TA Nucleocapsid protein structures from orthobunyaviruses reveal insight into ribonucleoprotein architecture and RNA polymerization. Nucleic Acids Res 41 5912-5926, 2013
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Carter SD, Surtees R, Walter CT, Ariza A, BergeronÉ, Nichol ST, Hiscox JA, Edwards TA, Barr JN Structure, function, and evolution of the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus nucleocapsid protein. J Virol 86 10914-10923, 2012
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Wu W, Tran KC, Teng MN, Heesom KJ, Matthews DA, Barr JN, Hiscox JA The interactome of the human respiratory syncytial virus NS1 protein highlights multiple effects on host cell biology. J Virol 86 7777-7789, 2012
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Carter SD, Barr JN, Edwards TA Expression, purification and crystallization of the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus nucleocapsid protein. Acta Crystallogr Sect F Struct Biol Cryst Commun 68 569-573, 2012
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Dove BK, Surtees R, Bean TJH, Munday D, Wise HM, Digard P, Carroll MW, Ajuh P, Barr JN, Hiscox JA A quantitative proteomic analysis of lung epithelial (A549) cells infected with 2009 pandemic influenza A virus using stable isotope labelling with amino acids in cell culture Proteomics 12 1431-1436, 2012
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Wu W, Macdonald A, Hiscox JA, Barr JN Different NF-κB activation characteristics of human respiratory syncytial virus subgroups A and B. Microb Pathog 52 184-191, 2012
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Munday DC, Surtees R, Emmott E, Dove BK, Digard P, Barr JN, Whitehouse A, Matthews D, Hiscox JA Using SILAC and quantitative proteomics to investigate the interactions between viral and host proteomes. Proteomics 12 666-672, 2012
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Walter CT, Barr JN Recent advances in the molecular and cellular biology of bunyaviruses. J Gen Virol 92 2467-2484, 2011
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Wu W, Munday DC, Howell G, Platt G, Barr JN, Hiscox JA Characterization of the interaction between human respiratory syncytial virus and the cell cycle in continuous cell culture and primary human airway epithelial cells. J Virol 85 10300-10309, 2011
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Barr JN The molecular and cellular biology of emerging bunyaviruses In Negative Strand RNA Virus, 2011

Walter CT, Bento DFC, Alonso AG, Barr JN Amino acid changes within the Bunyamwera virus nucleocapsid protein differentially affect the mRNA transcription and RNA replication activities of assembled ribonucleoprotein templates J GEN VIROL 92 80-84, 2011

Munday DC, Hiscox JA, Barr JN Quantitative proteomic analysis of A549 cells infected with human respiratory syncytial virus subgroup B using SILAC coupled to LC-MS/MS PROTEOMICS 10 4320-4334, 2010

Munday DC, Emmott E, Surtees R, Lardeau CH, Wu WN, Duprex WP, Dove BK, Barr JN, Hiscox JA Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of A549 Cells Infected with Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus MOL CELL PROTEOMICS 9 2438-2459, 2010

Carter SD, Dent KC, Atkins E, Foster TL, Verow M, Gorny P, Harris M, Hiscox JA, Ranson NA, Griffin S, Barr JN Direct visualization of the small hydrophobic protein of human respiratory syncytial virus reveals the structural basis for membrane permeability FEBS LETT 584 2786-2790, 2010

Walter CT, Barr JN Bunyamwera virus can repair both insertions and deletions during RNA replication RNA 16 1138-1145, 2010

Barr J, Fearns R How RNA viruses maintain their genome integrity J GEN VIROL 91 1373-1387, 2010

Mohl BP, Barr JN Investigating the specificity and stoichiometry of RNA binding by the nucleocapsid protein of Bunyamwera virus RNA 15 391-399, 2009

Hinzman EE, Barr JN, Wertz GW Selection for gene junction sequences important for VSV transcription VIROLOGY 380 379-387, 2008

Barr JN, Tang XL, Hinman E, Shen RZ, Wertz GW The VSV polymerase can initiate at mRNA start sites located either up or downstream of a transcription termination signal but size of the intervening intergenic region affects efficiency of initiation VIROLOGY 374 361-370, 2008

Barr JN Bunyavirus mRNA synthesis is coupled to translation to prevent premature transcription termination RNA 13 731-736, 2007

Rodgers JW, Zhou Q, Green TJ, Barr JN, Luo M Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic analysis of the nucleocapsid protein of Bunyamwera virus. Acta Crystallogr Sect F Struct Biol Cryst Commun 62 361-364, 2006
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Barr JN, Rodgers JW, Wertz GW Identification of the Bunyamwera bunyavirus transcription termination signal. J Gen Virol 87 189-198, 2006
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Barr JN, Rodgers JW, Wertz GW The Bunyamwera virus mRNA transcription signal resides within both the 3' and the 5' terminal regions and allows ambisense transcription from a model RNA segment. J Virol 79 12602-12607, 2005
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Barr JN, Wertz GW Role of the conserved nucleotide mismatch within 3'- and 5'-terminal regions of Bunyamwera virus in signaling transcription. J Virol 79 3586-3594, 2005
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Barr JN, Wertz GW Bunyamwera bunyavirus RNA synthesis requires cooperation of 3'- and 5'-terminal sequences. J Virol 78 1129-1138, 2004
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Whelan SPJ, Barr JN, Wertz GW Transcription and replication of nonsegmented negative-strand RNA viruses CURR TOP MICROBIOL 283 61-119, 2004

Barr JN, Elliott RM, Dunn EF, Wertz GW Segment-specific terminal sequences of Bunyamwera bunyavirus regulate genome replication. Virology 311 326-338, 2003
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Kohl A, Bridgen A, Dunn E, Barr JN, Elliott RM Effects of a point mutation in the 3 ' end of the S genome segment of naturally occurring and engineered Bunyamwera viruses J GEN VIROL 84 789-793, 2003

Barr JN, Whelan SPJ, Wertz GW Transcriptional control of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of vesicular stomatitis virus BBA-GENE STRUCT EXPR 1577 337-353, 2002

Hinzman EE, Barr JN, Wertz GW Identification of an upstream sequence element required for vesicular stomatitis virus mRNA transcription. J Virol 76 7632-7641, 2002
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Barr JN, Wertz GW Polymerase slippage at vesicular stomatitis virus gene junctions to generate poly(A) is regulated by the upstream 3'-AUAC-5' tetranucleotide: implications for the mechanism of transcription termination. J Virol 75 6901-6913, 2001
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Whelan SP, Barr JN, Wertz GW Identification of a minimal size requirement for termination of vesicular stomatitis virus mRNA: implications for the mechanism of transcription. J Virol 74 8268-8276, 2000
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Barr JN, Whelan SP, Wertz GW cis-Acting signals involved in termination of vesicular stomatitis virus mRNA synthesis include the conserved AUAC and the U7 signal for polyadenylation. J Virol 71 8718-8725, 1997
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Barr JN, Whelan SP, Wertz GW Role of the intergenic dinucleotide in vesicular stomatitis virus RNA transcription. J Virol 71 1794-1801, 1997
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Barr J, Easton AJ Characterisation of the interaction between the nucleoprotein and phosphoprotein of pneumonia virus of mice. Virus Res 39 221-235, 1995
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Whelan SP, Ball LA, Barr JN, Wertz GT Efficient recovery of infectious vesicular stomatitis virus entirely from cDNA clones. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 92 8388-8392, 1995
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Barr J, Chambers P, Pringle CR, Easton AJ Sequence of the major nucleocapsid protein gene of pneumonia virus of mice: sequence comparisons suggest structural homology between nucleocapsid proteins of pneumoviruses, paramyxoviruses, rhabdoviruses and filoviruses. J Gen Virol 72 ( Pt 3) 677-685, 1991
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Chambers P, Barr J, Pringle CR, Easton AJ Molecular cloning of pneumonia virus of mice. Journal of Virology 64 1869-1872, 1990
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